What is Tracking ?
Tracking is the practice of following animals , birds , humans and all living creatures to determine their behavior and whereabouts .
Tracking animals , but more specifically game , is an art and science as old as the first hunter-gatherers . While pursuing game , early hunters quickly realized that each specie of animal left very distinct tracks and signs peculiar to every animal of that kind .
In addition to being able to determine what specie of animal had made the tracks , it was also quite easy to recognize the size , and relative speed that this subject was travelling at . Sometimes , experienced trackers , can even determine the quarry’s gender .
Also left behind by these animals are scratching on trees , scraping on the ground , fur and feathers and of course scat or droppings . Trails and drag marks are other clues that enable trackers to follow these animals and to eventually identify this quarry .
This became a very important skill in the hunting and gathering of food .
Easy To Identify
By quick observation , these tracks are most likely dog tracks .The dog family – coyotes , wolves and domesticated dogs – will register their claws in soft , moist ground , sand or snow .
This does not occur in cat tracks , such as bobcats , lynx and cougar . Cats retract their claws to keep them clean and sharp as they are a very important weapon when conducting an attack on their prey . As you can see from these tracks below , there are no claw marks .
Birds will often register very clear tracks in the snow and also in soft mud along lake shores and seashores . This is especially the case with the wading birds but also with all wildlife the feeds on these soft mudflats .
Some Tips On Reading Tracks
- Of course , the easiest way , to identify a track is to observe the creature while it is making the track , and then immediately visit the tracks it has made .
- Many excellent books have been written on this subject and any serious quest to become proficient in tracking mammals , birds and other creatures requires a well illustrated field guide . http://www.amazon.com/Animal-Tracks-Signs-Animals-Garden/dp/0785828672/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1455034607&sr=1-2&keywords=Animal+Tracks+and+Signs .This is a very inexpensive book that will help you get started in your quest to better understand the fascinating world of Nature’s creatures .
- Begin by breaking down the types of creatures that register readable tracks , such as mammals , birds , reptiles and amphibians . Also note that insects will leave tracks and other signs of their presence .
- Some birds have webbed feet and some do not . This is a quick indicator of where they live and how they hunt for food .
- Some mammals have hooves and others have paws . Usually mammals with hooves are plant eaters and mammals with paws eat meat , as in the cat family , however this is not always the case .
- Gait describes how an animal moves and this results in very distinct trail characteristics .
- Galloping , hopping , loping , running , trotting , stotting and walking are all gaits . This alone , is a very useful concept to learn in your early tracking education .
- Spring time , when many birds are actively feeding on the shore lines , provides excellent opportunities for observing very clear tracks .
- Winter snows are great places to observe tracks made by mammals and birds .
- Many mammals and birds are nocturnal and sometimes their tracks are the only signs of their presence .
As you can easily see , reading animal and creature Tracks and Signs is an interesting activity to add to your knowledge of the outdoors . Please return again to this website as I explore many of these concepts in greater detail . Your comments and suggestions are always appreciated .